Part 1: Wonder Woman
Writer: Riley Glenn
Picture via Newsweek
Over the past two months, I have seen a number of movies that have come out. So far, these include; Baby Driver, Spider-Man Homecoming, Wonder Woman, and Dunkirk. These 4 movies are different in their own ways and my goal is to compare them and review how they did as films and offer my two cents on them. What follows part 1 of a weekly movie article, beginning with my #4 pick from the summer movies I have seen. If I see a movie that ranks lower than this before the end of summer, I will try to adjust my articles accordingly and make it clear how each movie ranks in comparison to the others.
#4: Wonder Woman: 6/10
Wonder Woman (2017) is the newest edition to the DC cinematic universe. Following the success of Marvel’s cinematic universe, it was very clear that DC, as other movie studios, felt the need to try to replicate the movies for their own successful franchise. However, the majority of these studios, most notably DC, failed to recognize what made the Marvel movies successful and revolutionary. Going into this movie, I was not expecting to come out of it thoroughly impressed, especially since it followed flops including; Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman, & Suicide Squad. However, I did come out of the theater somewhat pleasantly surprised.
First, it was a very refreshing change of pace as it was filled with more comedy and light-heartedness than the previous movies. It was nice to see a female superhero get her own feature length film in a time where there is no short of superhero films. I very much enjoyed the use of color and the vibrancy of the island at the beginning that Wonder Woman and the other Amazonians lived on, especially as it was contrasted with the gloomy grey of England, and furthermore, the previous DC movies as well. Second, for the most part, I enjoyed the plot and how it moved throughout the film. I could easily identify with characters and understand their motives. This is to say, until the end, but I will save that for later. I enjoyed where the film was going thematically and very much liked the idea that humanity was bad in itself and just because you win one battle, does not make all of the problems go away. I also enjoyed, (again, until the end), the sparing use of action. Most of the scenes were very low key and there wasn’t a huge fireworks show like there are with most big budget superhero movies. This, however, was the extent to which I enjoyed the movie.
To me, the movie had a lot more flaws than it did pros. One of the major issues for me was the action sequences. Every action scene was riddled with awful slow motion and every time Wonder Woman would do something “cool”, they would play the same sound effect from the trailer. Both of these things got very annoying by the end of the movie. The directing and cinematography during the action scenes was not very good to me. It seems to me like Patty Smith is a very good director when it comes to basic scenes, but does not have the experience directing action scenes needed to tackle Wonder Woman. Some of the CGI needed work and there were a couple of times that the green screen used was very obvious. However, the majority of the problems I had with this movie was with the theme and story.
Remember how I said that until the end, I understood the characters motives and that the battles were very low key? Well, until the last 30 minutes, this is true. There is a major shift in tone beginning in the third act to where it is almost distracting. Throughout the movie (SPOILER ALERT), Wonder Woman is saying that all evil stems from Ares, the god of war, and that if he is defeated, nothing but goodness will ensue. Aside from the fact that the entire movie, this is cast aside as joke, this isn’t true. The entire movie, Chris Pine’s character is trying to tell her that people are just bad and there is no external force acting on them, and I enjoyed this. It was nice to see no super powerful villain, and to watch her deal with the lack of goodness through humanity, I thought it would have a nice message, contrary to most superhero movies. However, once she defeats what is supposed to be the main villain, it is revealed that Ares actually is real and everything I enjoyed about the movie thus far was destroyed. Once Ares showed up, there was the same typical final battle where almost everything was destroyed and there was a huge fireworks display (which not only presented the bad action directing but the poor CGI too), and everything they built thematically came tumbling down. There was no change in Wonder Woman, she never had to realize that humanity is messed up because she was right the whole time and it was actually Ares infecting the minds of the people. Other than the inconsistent presentation of ideas, there was another glaring plot hole I still have not been able to figure out. If, whenever she defeated or killed Ares, there was supposed to be no more wickedness or war, what about World War II, the epitome of humanity’s wickedness and the most awful example of genocide and war. World War II is literally called the “deadliest human conflict in human history”, and this happened only about 20 years after Wonder Woman supposedly “defeated” Ares. Why, after she destroyed the god of war, was there WWII, the Korean War, The Vietnam War, The Cold War, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? And these are just examples of major AMERICAN conflicts, not to mention conflicts waged in other countries.
In conclusion, while this is not a terrible movie, and is actually a lot more fun than the previous movies in the DC cinematic universe, it is also not a GREAT movie, even if it is being compared to the others. Wonder Woman is a competent movie and can be enjoyed, this is just how I felt about it.